Wonderbags from Gooding’s Groves assist feeding schemes 

Feeding in Action is a feeding programme coordinating body operating in the greater municipal are of Stellenbosch in the Western Cape. At present, the organisation provides approximately 3 300 people with either one cooked meal per day, or regular food parcels and supplementary food supplies. They operate more than 30 distribution points which include 21 soup kitchens, six schools (±2 000 learners) and four clinics.  

Over weekends food is provided to other beneficiaries, such a farm workers, old age home residents, youth facilities and needy families. Feeding in Action also feeds the Stellenbosch Disaster Management staff during emergency situations such as fires or floods.  

The organisation employs five full-time people and relies on approximately 300 volunteers. Most of the fresh food for this initiative is donated by retail organisations with only dry ingredients and meat being purchased. Fruit farmers and packaging co-operatives donate fruit in season which is being distributed in addition to the existing menu 

The Wonderbag role

Natural Balance and the Gooding’s Groves B&B in Franschhoek donated two catering Wonderbags to Feeding in Action in May 2010. Subsequently, they acquired three more catering bags and one standard bag. Two of the Wonderbags are used at the central office and the others at three feeding points.   

Cooking at the central office involves the preparation of samp or rice for 110 children per day. Liesel Koen, food manager at Feeding in Action, explains how their Wonderbag saves them time, money and effort. “We boil 5kg of samp and 1kg of beans in about 20 litres of water for 30 minutes on the stovetop. The pot then goes into the Wonderbag and cooks over night. The gas saving is significant, not to mention that our staff can carry on with other tasks while the children’s food is cooking.”  

 Liesel also finds that they can serve better tasting food thanks to the Wonderbag.  “Without Wonderbags we only have a morning in which to prepare a 30 litre beef stew, for example. Given the time constraint it is almost impossible to cook the food for long enough to get the meat soft and tasty. Wonderbag solves this problem as it allows us to cook overnight and to serve our beneficiaries a lovely, appetising meal the next day.”  

Wonderbag cooking relieves the pressure on Feeding in Action’s cooks. “Our ladies can focus on seasoning and completing the dishes in the morning, instead of rushing to get everything done.” Liesel explains that they simply take the stew out of the bag, correct the seasoning, bring it to the boil again and place the pot back in the Wonderbag, ready to be transported to the feeding point. 

During the winter school holidays, Feeding in Action ran a project to feed more children than usual. “We could only do this because of the stove space freed up by our Wonderbags,” says Liesel. “We could prepare many more meals than usual, allowing us to feed a few hundred additional needy children.”  

The three feeding points that each uses a catering Wonderbag are:

Enkhanini in Kayamandi where more than 200 people receive a meal every day.

Cedile Street in Kayamandi feeds 155 needy people three times per week.

Cloetesville where 150 needy people receive food four times per week.  

“We view the Wonderbag as an integral and critical part of our daily activities and it is my goal to eventually have a catering bag at each of our feeding points,” says Liesel.